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Garret Sparks has historic debut with Maple Leafs

Garret Sparks certainly knows how to make a great first impression.

In his first career NHL start, the rookie delivered a shutout in the Toronto Maple Leafs3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers Monday night at Air Canada Centre.

How historic was his performance? 

Well, Sparks becomes the first goaltender in team history to debut with a shutout.

Sparks also earns Toronto’s first shutout since Jonathan Bernier blanked the Dallas Stars on Dec. 23, 2014. 

His best moment came in the second with about a minute remaining in the period. The fairy-tale ending almost came to an end at that point, but the young goalie made an impressive stick save to keep the Leafs ahead 1-0.

With James Reimer injured (lower-body injury) and Jonathan Bernier winless in his nine starts, Leafs coach Mike Babcock felt the time was right to start Sparks.

His instincts were spot on as Sparks made 24 saves against Edmonton.

When awarded the game’s first star, Sparks was overcome with emotion, thanked the crowd and skated away.

“That was a completely new experience and and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Sparks told reporters after the game. “I’m sure it’ll hit me at some point. It just hasn’t yet.”

One year ago, the Leafs’ draft pick was playing for the Orlando Solar Bears in the East Coast Hockey League. The 22-year-old Illinois native was picked in the seventh round (190th overall) by Toronto in the 2011 NHL entry draft.

CBC | Sports News